5The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. - Genesis 6:5–8 (ESV)
I’m a big fan of coherence. In fact I’d argue most people are as well. But I don’t think most people - especially within the Christian faith - are willing to chase down a concern that lacks coherence until they can finally fill in the gap. It’s far easier to move past a concern, placing it into the “I don’t understand pile”, as long as we think it doesn’t impact any of our core Christian beliefs. Personally, I’m a bit more stubborn than that and I implore you to exercise a serious level of stubbornness for truth and understanding. There’s an old saying I try to live by, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
The traditional narrative of The Flood is one of those concerns that lacks coherence. What is commonly taught is that mankind became so corrupt God had to cleanse the earth of what man had done. Even wiping out animals and insects that had nothing to do with man’s wantonness to sin. To make things more complicated, it’s taught that God was grieved and regretted creating man to begin with. And I know what you’re thinking, “This is exactly what scripture says”. But if we think about these verses a bit more, we’ll see things don’t really add up with the traditional narrative. Again, emphasis on the word traditional.
For starters, what do the animals have to do with man sinning? Why did God wipe them out? Why did the animals and insects deserve death? It’s not like God was destroying the earth in order to rebuild it. Also, if God is omniscient, then clearly He knew this was going to happen. So how could God become grieved and regret He made man? This posits God is somehow surprised at the turn of events that He knew was going to happen.
What we can ascertain at this point is that we’re missing some key pieces of information. There are gaps in our knowledge concerning God’s character and nature, and what the text is communicating. It is usually at this point where most Believers shrug their shoulders, accept the truths of the text and focus on bigger fish to fry, like God’s plan for their life.
But this is why I believe so many Christians fail to truly meet God and why they consistently wrestle with their Faith and purpose. Thinking requires hard work, it isn’t sexy, nor is it trendy. And in our current culture where everyone wants immediate results, it’s difficult for Believers to see how taking the time to understand what took place in ancient times benefits their relationship with Him today.
6And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague,
This verse may not be familiar to you and for good reason. It’s not in any book of the Bible. It is a verse - 7:6 - from 1 Enoch (commonly called The Book of Enoch). 1 Enoch is considered pseudepigrapha, which is a term ascribed to biblical writings that have an unknown author, but are often ascribed to a particular person. This book was written somewhere around the Intertestamental Period - also known as the 2nd Temple Period - placing it anywhere from 500 B.C. - A.D. 70. 1 Enoch was part of the ancient Jews collection of literature. In fact there are events in 1 Enoch that are referenced by Peter and Jude in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, it’s commonly taught that no other book has value aside from the Bible, and to even think otherwise borders on heresy. This simply isn’t fact. While I do believe there are many ancient books Christians should stay far away from, I don’t think that means we should throw the baby out with the bath water. In fact, in my opinion, doing so is extremely unhealthy for the Church. 1 Enoch is a fantastic book that supplements the truth of scripture and presents absolutely nothing that is counter to the Biblical narrative. It actually helps by providing additional context forscripture that is not included in scripture.
1 Enoch captures the events that led up to The Flood. Remember in our previous edition I mentioned the angels also played a role in the corruption of the earth. They in fact played the main role. These angels were given the title of Watchers.
7 And that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin. - 1 Enoch 10:7
The short version of the story, is 200 angels - lead by Semiazaz - descended upon Mount Hermon - located in Israel - where they made a pact to have sexual relations with the women of humanity. They left their positions as Jude 1:6 calls out. These beings slept with women and bore giants. These giants then ransacked humanity and the animals.
2 And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: 3Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, 4the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood. - 1 Enoch 6:2-5
All of this squares up nicely with the Genesis 6 events that lead up to the introduction of Noah.
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. - Genesis 6:4 (ESV)
When we get to verse 5, we see God has had enough of the corruption on Earth. But it’s important to know the cause of the corruption, and it wasn’t man. It was the angels, who bore giants. These giants defiled and corrupted all of God’s creation. Even the animals. These giants ate everything man worked for, then when food ran out, they started consuming man, then the animals and then eventually each other. Man - albeit sinners - were recipients of the defilement which led to man perpetuating this corruption. This is why God had to cleanse the entireearth. What was happening on earth was akin to a plague, as called out in 1 Enoch 7:6. There was a level of spiritual evil that had infected every living creature except Noah and his family.
The last point I want to make centers around the idea of God regretting to create humans. That’s not entirely true. If we look at verse 6 more closely it comes with a qualifier (emphasis mine):
6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. - Genesis 6:6 (ESV)
God didn’t regret creating man. He regretted creating man on the earth. He grieved because of what happened to man on Earth, much like a father would grieve over a child that was the victim of a heinous crime. These Watchers were supposed to watch over humanity, much like Satan was supposed to guard Eden. Both, failing.
We’ll continue to look at these events more closely in upcoming editions. But I want you to walk away with knowing God wasn’t shaking His fist at humanity to the point where He decided to annihilate all creation in some fit of rage. He’s not angry deity. He also never regretted creating mankind. I hope you can also see that man wasn’t the cause behind the corruption of Earth, however they were actors and did perpetuate it on an apocalyptic scale.
Coherence is important. It’s not enough to just believe something because it’s in the text. We should also strive for understanding. If it’s in the Bible then God wants us to know about it. It’s up to us to do the hard work so it makes sense. This draws us closer to fully knowing Him and His heart.